This year, we went beyond our typical carving of pumpkins and decided to do some real decorating. It's the first time I've ever used that fake cobweb stuff, and I have to say it's loads of fun. The entire family got in on the action and while it's no jack-o-lantern light show to Gangnam Style, we did get a lot of compliments and one family even took photos of our decorations when they trick-or-treated our place.
Unfortunately, I didn't think to take photos, myself, until the morning after. So, some of the awesome (particularly our spooky lighting) is lost. Oh, well. (You can click on the images for larger versions.)
|This is our back porch (which is quite viewable to the neighborhood). Those black dots are fake spiders.|
|Even the bushes in our front "yard" were not exempt.|
|The pumpkin carvers from left to right: C-bear (with help from Banana), Little E, Princess (with help from Mom), G-man, Banana & Lee-Lee|
|The lights were an eery dark purple. And that spider was my favorite!|
And now the kiddie costumes! (In no particular order. And again, you can click on the images for the larger versions.)
|C-bear was a generic princess. Her dress is quite reminiscent of Rapunzel's in "Tangled." (Mommy loses brownie points for taking a head shot rather than a full body one.)|
|G-Man as Bumblebee from Transformers. This choice should probably come as no surprise since the boy has loved cars (particularly fast ones) from a young age. (I'm serious. He actually enjoys watching NASCAR!)|
It was a fun Halloween. We had a pretty decent showing of Trick-or-Treaters as well. (Lots of little ones in our neighborhood) and I always enjoy seeing the costumes.
And I ate way, way too much candy during pretty much the entire month of October.
No photos for this one, unfortunately. (I never think to bust out the camera during this particular holiday.)
This year, being far from home, we invited a couple of other families (also far from their respective homes) to join us for the festivities. Thanksgiving, for me, is the biggest family holiday of the year. You just don't celebrate it alone.
I have happy childhood memories of Thanksgivings spent at my uncle's house or my grandparent's home, where my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and my cousins were all practically piled on top of each other as the house would be full of card tables and folding chairs. Everyone would bring something like a huge, delectable potluck: homemade dinner rolls, the typical Thanksgiving trimmings, and of course, meatballs. Yes, meatballs. (And the best you've ever had, I promise.) I loved it. I miss it.
And so, the thought of whipping up a crazy-big meal this year for only our six picky-eaters (who wouldn't have eaten much)... Well, how would that be different than Sunday dinner? We found another family or two who were wondering whether to bother with Thanksgiving for the same reasons (though they have decidedly less children than we, if still the same picky-ness) and decided to thrown in together for the holiday.
It was quite nice. And delicious (sadly no meatballs, however). Since we were hosting, we provided the main course stuff. Big E has cooking the turkey down to a science. (He brines it the night before. He cooks it upside down for the first couple of hours to make the breast so tender it's like butter. And he stuffs it with apples. Yep. Apples. My man can make a mean turkey.) I made my mashed potatoes (or "smashed" potatoes as Princess likes to call them) along with other traditional side dishes.
We had a buffet full of tasty food (the other families brought some yummies, too)--which, of course, with only 6 adults and 9 very, very picky eater kids, we had tons and tons of leftovers of. (I only had a modest plate-full myself this year.)
But then, despite the hours spent in the kitchen leading up to the main event, Thanksgiving isn't really about the food, is it? It's about family. It's about friends. It's about forgetting our cares for a few hours to be grateful for what we have.
This year, I'm grateful for second chances. I'm grateful that my kids somehow think I'm pretty neat despite how much of a non-Mom I've been for so long. I'm grateful that they've embraced these changes I've made without bitterness, without resentment, without holding a grudge. (My kids are phenomenal, I tell you.) I'm grateful for a husband who supports me and doesn't hold my past mistakes over my head.
And most of all, I'm thankful to God, for the wake-up call He gave me and the chance to make things right.
I'm happier now than I've been in years.